Mar 24, 2020

Day 4 of my 7 day shift at Eisenhower. Census is still down (10 patients today) due to the general public discovering, suddenly, just how little they really need to be in the emergency room. We are grateful. Feels like the calm before the storm, and we fervently hope that the California lock down prevents a storm. A few of these patients are covid suspect, and my responsibility as we are not allowing residents to see these patients yet. We still have PPE (personal protective equipment), but like many health care workers across the country, we are concerned about running out.  Those medical staff working in other countries without PPE are predictably succumbing in higher numbers to infection. My chief resident is from the Philippines and following news there, where 2 young rural physicians have died of covid. One of our trusted medical sites is running a daily list of health care workers in the U.S. with covid-19.

We are devoted caregivers on the front lines, but we are concerned about the prospect of working without PPE, masks in particular. Everyone in direct patient care is talking about it. Most of the health care workers I know are dedicated to their patients, many sacrifice family, social and personal commitments throughout their careers to that end. However, in my lifetime, our doctors, nurses, therapists, maintenance workers, aides, ward clerks, cafeteria workers and doctors in training have not been required to put their very lives at risk when coming to work. Not since medical personnel were last drafted, about 50 years ago, has this been the case. If we lose our PPE’s, it is a moral dilemma none of us wish to face.

Rumor has it we’re getting our own test equipment here, but no one will say when. Presumably that would speed results up, but we don’t know how much.
Speed would be welcome.

Today’s next linked article is thought-provoking. If we had anticipated this event and started a selective lock-down of vulnerable people early (late January or early Feb), we could have limited the complete disruption of our lives and economy that full lock down has presented, and the end of which is not clearly defined. However, in much, if not all of the nation, we are too late for that. There are perhaps some rural areas that might still benefit from selective lock down, but that window is closing daily. I do hope that we are able to flatten the curve substantially enough in locked down areas to see a difference from those states not locking down, and that this will help inform how long, and how intensively or intermittently we must continue.

The last link is a unique look from outer space at how to manage isolation–from astronaut Scott Kelly who spent a year on the space station.

Sometimes the big picture helps. It’s a beautiful world, and our only one. Let’s take care of one another by staying in and staying well.

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